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Worshippers subdue man who says he sought to save souls at historic church
San Antonio Express-News ^ | 01/14/2004 | Amy Dorsett

Posted on 01/14/2004 4:34:33 AM PST by SwinneySwitch

A man proclaiming himself the "Prince of Peace" intent on saving souls from idol worship ran amok Tuesday morning at San Fernando Cathedral, toppling seven statues, reducing parts of them to piles of dust. Worshippers at the downtown church subdued the man until police arrived at around 8:30 a.m.

Officers found statues across the cathedral knocked off their pedestals, some of them split in two, others in dozens of tiny pieces.

"He was agitated. He started yelling that he was going to save the people in the church and he was going to start by smashing the statues," said Deacon Pat Rodgers, director of communications for the Archdiocese of San Antonio. "He went on a rampage."

Rogelio Rodriguez, 38, of San Antonio was charged with felony criminal mischief. He was in Bexar County Jail late Tuesday in lieu of $100,000 bond.

Rodriguez, who celebrated a birthday last week, has a criminal history of driving with a suspended license. His probation had been revoked on that 1990 charge.

The demolition jarred church officials, who unveiled a thoroughly restored San Fernando last spring after an intense $5.8 million project that rejuvenated one of the oldest churches in the city. Largely considered the city's spiritual center, San Fernando is believed to be the oldest cathedral sanctuary in the country.

Archbishop Patrick Flores fought to maintain his composure as he described his reaction to seeing seven major statues crumbled on the church's stone floor. They lay prostrate, some without limbs, others without heads.

"I must say it was very painful to see what had been done in view of the fact that so much work had gone into reshaping the cathedral into the pride and joy of all of us — Catholics, Protestants, Jews and people of all denominations," Flores said. "I got depressed when I saw it, and I couldn't help but cry."

Other religious leaders echoed his sentiments.

"I certainly feel the same sense of sadness that Archbishop Flores and the Catholic community feel," said the Rev. Kenneth Thompson, executive director of the San Antonio Community of Churches. "I had a small part in the effort to restore the cathedral, and many gifts were donated by the non-Catholic community. This speaks volumes for where the heart of the community is where San Fernando Cathedral is concerned."

Temple Beth-El Rabbi Barry Block also expressed sorrow over the destruction.

"San Fernando Cathedral is a treasure to us all," Block said. "Anything Temple Beth-El can do to help our friends at the cathedral, we'll certainly be there."

While detained, Rodriguez reportedly told police officers he was God and was saving souls by destroying the idols that sinners worship. Police said he told them he was proud of his work and that it had been done in the name of his father. He also reportedly told police he had died and the person he used to be no longer is alive.

Flores said the man's claim of idol worship was false.

"I've been a Catholic all my life, and I was never told to worship a statue," he said. "These are monuments to the people they represent. The biggest monument is Jesus on the cross. Others were great servants of the church and the people, and when they were canonized, statues were erected in their honor and memory."

Those who were at the church when the incident happened reported that Rodriguez was agitated. By the time police arrived, however, he was calm and was said to have had a satisfied demeanor.

Several other statues were unharmed, including one of St. Ferdinand III, the Spanish king for whom the historical cathedral is named. Also unharmed were about 20 figurines in a Christmas manger scene.

Lewis S. Fisher, whose firm Fisher Heck served as the local architect on the cathedral restoration project, went to the church to survey the damage. He said some of the statues were more damaged than others because they were knocked off high perches.

The Immaculate Heart of Mary, Fisher said, fell and shattered a wooden pew because of its heft.

Most of the statues date to the early 20th century, Fisher said, adding, however, that they are not antiques.

"The decision will be made if they are beyond restoration," he said. "It may be better to purchase a new one."

The cathedral was closed temporarily Tuesday so conservators could survey the damage and gingerly move the damaged statues to a studio. A crowd gathered in front of the church for the regular noon Mass, only to find it closed.

"Oh, my gosh," José López said, his mouth dropping. "Who would do something like that? The church is across from one of the centers of justice in the city. Why isn't it guarded? I mean, we live in a world where we need to guard even the sacred grounds."

López said he had wanted to visit the church during a break in jury duty, which had brought him downtown.

"This is another blow to the church itself," he said. "But I know that we will all come out stronger in faith because of it."

--adorsett@express-news.net

Staff Writers J. Michael Parker, Rachel Toalson and Mary Moreno contributed to this report.


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Extended News; US: Texas
KEYWORDS: cathedral; sanantonio; sanfernando
"It is expected to reopen today for its regular hours."
1 posted on 01/14/2004 4:34:35 AM PST by SwinneySwitch
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To: SwinneySwitch
I wonder if he'll be charged with a hate crime.

Silly me. What am I saying, LOL!
2 posted on 01/14/2004 4:39:17 AM PST by BlessedBeGod
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Comment #3 Removed by Moderator

To: Coleus; Salvation
Ping!
4 posted on 01/14/2004 11:06:58 AM PST by Clemenza (East side, West side, all around the town. Tripping the light fantastic on the sidewalks of New York)
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To: SwinneySwitch
I guess the man actually read the 10 commandments--and the rest of the Bible.

Exodus 20:4
"Thou shalt not make unto thee, any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:"

Leviticus 26:1
"Ye shall make you no idols nor graven image, neither rear you up a standing image, neither shall ye set up any image of stone in your land, to bow down unto it: for I am the LORD your God."

Deuteronomy 4:16
Lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image, the similitude of any figure, the likeness of male or female,

Deuteronomy 4:23
Take heed unto yourselves, lest ye forget the covenant of the LORD your God, which he made with you, and make you a graven image, or the likeness of any thing, which the LORD thy God hath forbidden thee.

Deuteronomy 4:25
When thou shalt beget children, and children's children, and ye shall have remained long in the land, and shall corrupt yourselves, and make a graven image, or the likeness of any thing, and shall do evil in the sight of the LORD thy God, to provoke him to anger:

Deuteronomy 5:8
Thou shalt not make thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the waters beneath the earth:

Deuteronomy 7:5
But thus shall ye deal with them; ye shall destroy their altars, and break down their images, and cut down their groves, and burn their graven images with fire.

Deuteronomy 7:25
The graven images of their gods shall ye burn with fire: thou shalt not desire the silver or gold that is on them, nor take it unto thee, lest thou be snared therin: for it is an abomination to the LORD thy God.

Deuteronomy 12:3
And ye shall overthrow their altars, and break their pillars, and burn their groves with fire; and ye shall hew down the graven images of their gods, and destroy the names of them out of that place.

Deuteronomy 27:15
Cursed be the man that maketh any graven or molten image, an abomination unto the LORD, the work of the hands of the craftsman, and putteth it in a secret place. And all the people shall answer and say, Amen.

Psalm 97:7
Confounded be all they that serve graven images, that boast themselves of idols: worship him, all ye gods.

Isaiah 10:10
As my hand hath found the kingdoms of the idols, and whose graven images did excel them of Jerusalem and of Samaria;

Isaiah 42:8
I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.

Isaiah 44:9
They that make a graven image are all of them vanity; and their delectable things shall not profit; and they are their own witnesses; they see not, nor know; that they may be ashamed.


Jeremiah 8:19
Behold the voice of the cry of the daughter of my people because of them that dwell in a far country: Is not the LORD in Zion? is not her king in her? Why have they provoked me to anger with their graven images, and with strange vanities?

Jeremiah 10:14
Every man is brutish in his knowledge: every founder is confounded by the graven image: for his molten image is falsehood, and there is no breath in them.

Are they just decorations? Or do people actually bow down, and pray in the name of and to those whose image is carved? What does the Bible say about it?
5 posted on 01/14/2004 12:30:29 PM PST by tuckrdout (Terri Schindler Schiavo deserves to have her wishes honored. Give her a divorce!)
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To: BlessedBeGod
**I wonder if he'll be charged with a hate crime.

Silly me. What am I saying, LOL!**

Nevertheless, a valid point!
6 posted on 01/14/2004 1:22:16 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: tuckrdout; BlessedBeGod; Clemenza
And what did Jesus do in a similar situation with a man out of control?

Gospel, 1-13-04

Gospel
Mk 1:21-28

Jesus came to Capernaum with his followers,
and on the sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught.
The people were astonished at his teaching,
for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes.
In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit;
he cried out, "What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?
Have you come to destroy us?
I know who you are–the Holy One of God!"
Jesus rebuked him and said, "Quiet! Come out of him!"
The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him.
All were amazed and asked one another,
"What is this?
A new teaching with authority.
He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him."
His fame spread everywhere throughout the whole region of Galilee.

7 posted on 01/14/2004 1:26:05 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: tuckrdout
don't be so quick to criticize!
8 posted on 01/14/2004 1:26:56 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: SwinneySwitch
One of the dangers of religious fundamentalism. Also, there is a fine line between religious fervor and religious dementia. It is frightening really when people get psychotic and religion is a factor.

There are others who probably aren't psychotic who do believe that statues are idols. They are entitled to their opinion so long as they respect the property rights of others.

9 posted on 01/14/2004 1:30:03 PM PST by Aliska
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To: BlessedBeGod; tuckrdout
Well, at leasst he didn't commit statue-atory rape.
10 posted on 01/14/2004 1:40:42 PM PST by jonatron
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To: BlessedBeGod; tuckrdout
Well, at least he didn't commit statue-atory rape.
11 posted on 01/14/2004 1:40:52 PM PST by jonatron
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To: SwinneySwitch
While detained, Rodriguez reportedly told police officers he was God and was saving souls by destroying the idols that sinners worship. Police said he told them he was proud of his work and that it had been done in the name of his father. He also reportedly told police he had died and the person he used to be no longer is alive.

What's his FR screen name?

12 posted on 01/14/2004 1:42:21 PM PST by ArrogantBustard
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To: Aliska
Perhaps the poor deranged soul saw the word "Pieta" and thought it said "pinata."

All in all, very sad, but not too much for a loving God to bear and forgive.......

13 posted on 01/14/2004 1:43:30 PM PST by tracer
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To: tuckrdout
Mr. Rodriguez????
14 posted on 01/14/2004 1:43:31 PM PST by ArrogantBustard
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To: jonatron
Seems to me "Madonna" did a video about that, 'way back when...
15 posted on 01/14/2004 1:45:00 PM PST by ArrogantBustard
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To: tracer
I strongly suspect the fellow may not be in such mental condition as to be morally responsible for his actions....

Father, forgive him, for he knows not what he is doing.
16 posted on 01/14/2004 1:46:27 PM PST by ArrogantBustard
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To: tuckrdout
I guess the man actually read the 10 commandments--and the rest of the Bible

Just curious -- which part of the Bible told him he was God? And which part told him it was okay to destroy someone else's property?

17 posted on 01/14/2004 2:02:29 PM PST by Campion
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To: tracer
Perhaps the poor deranged soul saw the word "Pieta" and thought it said "pinata."

If the subject matter of this thread weren't so serious, I would think that was funny. It was a clever play on words.

Maybe it was this way: Perhaps the poor deranged soul saw the word "idol" and had some "idle" time on his hands.

In either case, he will be on court-ordered therapy I would suppose. As to God's forgiveness, I'm sure you are right if the guy is truly sorry. In his state of mind, being sorry is probably not an option. He may persist to the end in believing that he did God a favor.

18 posted on 01/14/2004 2:09:45 PM PST by Aliska
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Just like the Taliban that destroyed the antique Buddha statues in Afghanistan.

Sometimes, private property is private property, and art is art.

Even if we believe that some Americans worship God the wrong way, we should respect other people's worship houses.

19 posted on 01/14/2004 2:14:42 PM PST by george wythe
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To: SwinneySwitch
THANKS for posting this in the news section vs the religion forum. I'd have likely missed it otherwise.
20 posted on 01/14/2004 2:19:18 PM PST by Quix (Particularly quite true conspiracies are rarely proven until it's too late to do anything about them)
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To: tuckrdout
Use the damn head that God gave you and quit asking dumb questions and wasting everyone's friggin time with inane inapplicable posts.
21 posted on 01/14/2004 2:21:30 PM PST by AAABEST
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To: Salvation; CHAMPION
"Just curious -- which part of the Bible told him he was God? And which part told him it was okay to destroy someone else's property?"

"And what did Jesus do in a similar situation ...."

Interestingly, Jesus did have a similar situation! And he behaved in a similar manner:

Matthew 21:12--- Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves.

Mark 11:15--- On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple area and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves,

John 2:15--- So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, "Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father's house into a market!" His disciples remembered that it is written: "Zeal for your house will consume me."[Psalm 69:9]

John 10:34--- Jesus answered them, "Is it not written in your Law, 'I have said you are gods'?" [ref,Psalm 82:6:"I said, 'You are "gods"; you are all sons of the Most High.'" ]

22 posted on 01/15/2004 12:24:58 PM PST by tuckrdout (Terri Schindler Schiavo deserves to have her wishes honored. Give her a divorce!)
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To: george wythe
"Even if we believe that some Americans worship God the wrong way, we should respect other people's worship houses. "

You are most correct. In this country we are free to worship as we please. This man was wrong to do what he did, because he tried to force others into his beliefs. He is free to speak up about his reasons for believing this church was wrong, but may not infringe on their right to follow their conscience, or invade their private property.

I know that sounds contrary to my former posts; but although I may agree with the sentiment, I, in fact do not agree with the methods. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is strong enough to topple the idols without a man doing it! I was just presenting an argument.

23 posted on 01/15/2004 12:36:57 PM PST by tuckrdout (Terri Schindler Schiavo deserves to have her wishes honored. Give her a divorce!)
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To: ArrogantBustard
"He also reportedly told police he had died and the person he used to be no longer is alive."

Schizophrenia at work here folks.

God speaks to all of us in that wee small voice. If that wee small voice is telling you to do destructive things to someone elses property and you feel smug about it , It ain't God.

This guy isn't talking about any kind of spiritual rebirth, he is delusional.
24 posted on 01/15/2004 1:36:31 PM PST by TASMANIANRED (black dogs are my life)
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